How Do Know If My Car Has An Oil Leak?

By David Sholicar

We’ve all experienced various problems with our cars, new and old, but one thing that keeps cropping up in conversations with our customers is how common an engine oil leak seems to be. When you think you have one, it can be really troubling as it can be tricky for a vehicle owner to track down the source of the leak and yet this is clearly not something that can be ignored.

Oil Leak

Years of experience tell us that it will invariably save you time and worry to come straight to the professionals to identify the leak and have us propose appropriate solutions. However, if you want to try going it alone first, there are things you can do.
Here’s are our recommended 5 steps to take to help track down that elusive engine oil leak. None of these assume that you have a four-post ramp!

1. Oil Level Check

With the engine cold, take out your dipstick, wipe it clean, so that you can see the oil level markers. Re-insert the dipstick and remove again. The oil level should be within the upper and lower limit marks. We recommend that you check this on a regular basis, especially so with older vehicles. If there is an oil leak, daily checks will soon show a reducing level of oil. However, don't wait until it is close to the lower level before topping up. Insufficient oil can cause catastrophic damage to the engine.

2. Fluorescent Leak Detection

UV light and dyes that are fluorescent can help you find the source of smaller leaks. Both are readily available from automotive spares shops. Add the dye to your oil and then run the engine for 10 minutes. Then shine the UV light and look for glowing areas that should show you where the leaks are.

3. Steam Cleaning

You could steam clean your engine to remove hardened grease to make it easier to see a fresh oil leak. Do ensure you protect the electrical components such as the alternator when cleaning.

4. Talcum Powder

This is an ingenious use for talcum powder! Simply shake it onto the surface of the engine, drive for a while and wait to see if any oil appears on the surface to help you find your leak.

5. Multiple Leaks

We advise that you check for multiple leaks, even after you’ve found the first one. Multiple gaskets can have wear and tear and more than one may fail at the same time.
It can be quite a lot of work as you can see to identify oil leaks. At Protyre we have a large network of local garages with experts who can help you. Not only are we are known for our professional tyre fitters and our stocks of tyre brands including Pirelli and Sumitomo, but we also provide MOTs, servicing, and repairs.

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About the author

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By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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